The SOLA Future Energy welcomed the signing of 27 outstanding Renewable Energy Independent Power Purchase Agreements. Picture: Courtney Africa/ANA

Johannesburg - The SOLA Future Energy on Wednesday, welcomed the signing of 27 outstanding Renewable Energy Independent Power Purchase Agreements (REIPPA) as a sign of government's commitment to economic growth and prosperity in South Africa. 

Energy Minister Jeff Radebe on Wednesday, signed the 27 agreements, saying that they represented an investment of R56 billion injected by the private sector into the economy with no contribution from government other than the support to Eskom in the event of a default by the buyer.

The outstanding Power Purchase Agreements formed part of the fourth round of REIPPP -- South Africa's world-renowned renewable energy procurement programme. 

Radebe said that this will have a positive impact on the economy and competition in the energy sector will certainly benefit the consumer.

Dr Chris Haw, chairman of SOLA Future Energy, said that this was a long time coming.

"This signing has been a long time coming, and it's a monumental moment for the South African renewable energy industry. Renewables are cheaper and more sustainable forms of energy. Their adoption will reduce the cost of electricity for households and businesses in the long run," Haw said.

SOLA Future Energy's subsidiary company, Aurora Power Solutions developed 170 megawatts worth of solar PV projects that are currently in preferred bidder status and have been awaiting execution.

Since 2015, after three successful rounds of procurement, the programme was stalled despite significant capital investment and job creation that had been made. But the low cost, low carbon advantages of renewables have now been recognised by the South African government as critical to the country's future.

Haw said that the signing also shows the government's potential interest to move ahead with "small scale" IPP projects (SPP), a programme similar to the REIPPP but for smaller projects that contain a higher degree of local ownership.

The SPP projects were excluded from the group of projects that were approved on Wednesday, even though they have the same procurement status. The hope is that these will be signed in the near future.

"The small IPP projects have huge potential to encourage economic growth. They have a sharp focus on BBBEE, local procurement, and local operation, which means that the economic spinoffs for local economies will be more pronounced per megawatt procured," Haw said.

African News Agency/ANA